I quite like it when Christmas is a Sunday. It feels tidy, somehow. A week beforehand, there's no weekend to get in the way. Not that shops close on Sundays in December any more - Cyprus becomes more European each year - but we try to make Sundays a bit different in general, and don't rush around doing things.
The first Christmas event was on Friday, with the inter-church carol concert. This is the third year for Tim as pianist in this concert, and this year he organised most of the music too. Thankfully someone else did the final directing and the conducting on the night, and it all went well, but it's been a stressful few weeks. Dan played clarinet although as he was right behind Tim he can't be seen in this picture:
On Saturday there was an extra Christmas performance of 'The Little Man's Best Friend' by Theatre Antidote although it was really last year's show. Dan plays clarinet in this, so we took my mother along to see it. It was a busy day for Dan because an hour earlier he did a ten-minute 'slot' at the church children's party: juggling, with a Christmas message. According to everyone who saw him it went very well, although he wasn't quite sure what he was going to do until he got there!
In the evening Tim was playing the piano for an outreach Christmas service at a club in Oroklini, one of the villages not far from Larnaka; Richard and Dan went to a birthday party for one of the Antidote people. It was quite late, and isn't really my kind of thing, so I stayed here.
On Sunday our church had a family carol service. We used this year's Scripture Union service, which had plenty of participation from adults as well as from the children. I was supervising some small 'angels' from my under-7s Sunday School class. I had also downloaded and copied angel templates for everyone to tear out, and they were hung on strings around the church. None of us were quite sure how that would work, and it was rather chaotic - but quite effective.
There was a humorous story about a little angel too, with congregational participation, a song by the children, and plenty of carols and readings. Almost reminiscent of family services back home at Christchurch, Selly Park. I very much enjoyed it, and others seemed to as well. Afterwards there were a huge number of refreshments available, many of them left over from the children's party the day before.
Tim was playing the organ for the morning service at St Helena's. That was an ordinary service but in the evening they had their service of lessons and carols (only seven lessons rather than the traditional nine). Tim sang in the choir for that - a small and fairly informal choir - and read one of the lessons, so I went along with my mother. There were refreshments after that too, mostly mulled wine and mince pies.
Meanwhile Dan was in Nicosia all day, as there was another performance of 'The Little Man..' there in the afternoon.
Then this morning both boys went carol-singing around rest-homes in Larnaka. Actually they weren't singing: Tim was playing his keyboard, and Dan his clarinet. The singers were some of the choir from Friday, and a few others. This afternoon Dan's in Nicosia for his last clarinet lesson before leaving in January for the Doulos, and Tim hopes to do some Christmas shopping before his last singing lesson of the year.
Tomorrow we'll try to buy the last two small presents for the boys first thing, then there's not much more happening (other than stage combat and drama for Dan all afternoon and evening) until they attend a party in the evening. On Wednesday Richard's colleagues and their families are coming to lunch, on Thursday Dan's in Nicosia yet again, and there's a gathering for the Antidote folk and families in the evening.
On Christmas Eve the boys will be playing for carol-singing at hotels, and the rest of us spending the evening with friends. On Christmas Day itself, after church, we're having two families from Limassol over to lunch...
Oddly enough I feel pretty well-prepared at this stage. Rather worrying, really as I'm usually rushing around in a panic a week before Christmas. I do need to ice the cake at some point, and make some more mince pies, and perhaps some fudge and other sweets. But the cards are posted, the tree is up (we did that yesterday afternoon) with the family presents around it, and the freezer's pretty well stocked with soups and other kinds of cake and various other bits and pieces we might need.